What are standardized tests?
Standardized tests are tests that are given to every student and consist of the same questions. They are then tested and scored in exactly the same manner.
Advantages or pros of standardized testing:
If you take human scoring out of the question the results are easy to assess and document. However, if a test has essay questions or something other than multiple choice or true/false answering you have to have humans score the results. If computer scoring is used the results are very clear. Another pro is that these tests are economical to make, give and score.
Another advantage or pro of standardized testing is that while scoring of the individual may not be completely perfect it does give a good indicator of the school or class average. This helps school administrators know better what is working and what isn’t within their curriculum framework.
Disadvantages or cons of standardized testing:
While there can be a need to assess knowledge of certain facts, standardized testing leads to problems within the schools curriculum. If teachers are only giving out information to “teach to the test”, certain crucial information may be left out, a huge con to standardized testing. It is hard to say from standardized test scoring what the child knows about an overall subject, it only shows what the test chooses to measure.
This is where the problem with basing your curriculum around a standardized test comes into play. This keeps teachers from teaching kids a wide variety of things in each subject because they have to be worried about the test results and how it makes them look. While this may be good for teachers who are only teaching for health benefits, this would be very limiting to a teacher who truly loves to share knowledge and ideas with children. Another con, these tests also leave very little time for students to have hands on learning time and creative thinking sessions. They are too busy trying to retain facts so that they can score well.
Another debate is the trend of test preparation. This is a huge market for companies that produce test helpers, test preparation books, or offer tutoring for testing. While this may be a needed thing, it costs a lot of money. This then brings the problem of families with money having better test scores than those that don’t. This does not bring about a correct assessment of the teacher but of the parent’s ability to get the child the right help to score well.
While standardized testing may have a place in school systems it is greatly flawed. There is just no good way of measuring a humans intelligence. Intelligence takes in too many factors such as critical thinking, creative thinking, conceptual thinking, application of knowledge and more.